Accountability and participation of women and girls in the implementation of the MDGs – CSW 58

Commission on the Status of Women 58 –Panel 2: Accountability and participation of women and girls in the implementation of the MDGs


  • Ms. Neli Shiolashvili, Vice-Chair of the Commission (Georgia)


H.E. Ms. Lourdes Bandeira (Brazil), Vice-Minister of the Secretariat of Women Policies; H.E. Mr. Urmas Paet (Estonia), Minister of Foreign Affairs; Ms. Carolyn Sobritchea (Philippines), Professorial Lecturer, Asian Center, University of the Philippines; Ms. Salina Sanou (Kenya), Head of Policy and Advocacy, Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development; Ms. Maarit Kohonen Sheriff, Deputy Director of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Major Themes and Discussion

1) The main responsibility for MDG achievement and accountability should lie with the nation states and their governments.

  • Frequently, progress towards fulfilling goals is not a question of financial resources but a question of policies.
  • The effectiveness of the international community’s support and effectiveness of official development assistance is much higher in those partner countries, where the national governments are capable, transparent and accountable, and where adequate policies are in place and implemented

2) Use of the gender lens encourages accountability

  • Gender equality markers should be used in policy-making, project proposals and their financing processes.
  • Gender should be mainstreamed into every policymaking and funding decision.
  • All fields, policies and decision makers must work together towards a mutual goal.
  • Gender committees with significant representation of women from various socio- economic and cultural groups need to participate in the review and reformulation of MDG and beyond action plans.
  • The Philippines has experience in the use of the gender mainstreaming approach. Its success depends on getting all branches of government to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment including (a) passage of enabling laws and policies; (c) institutionalization of the gender committees in all branches of government and levels of governance; (c) gender plans to guide implementation of national plans; (e) regular gender training for all stakeholders (d) technical assistance provided by the Philippine Commission on Women and development agencies, and (d) audit mechanisms on the implementation of the gender plan as well as use of the gender budget

3) Global partnerships encourage accountability

  • Governmental expenditures partnered with private sector spending have accountability built in through benchmarks and measureable targets. Example:  Global Education First Initiative has private sector partners such as Microsoft, Nestlé, Mastercard
  • When a donor country supports a partner country its implementation capacities are  broadened. Within the UNSCR 1325 network, there are 40 countries with NAP – this number could be doubled
  • Inclusion of men and boys widens the circle of accountability – inclusion births accountability

4) Accountability also means understanding the strategic nature of investments in the inter-connected aspects of MDGs

  • No matter how many resources we invest in societies, there is no development, if it is not supported by education of women and girls. For example, investments in education and professional skill development for women and girls not only educate women and girls but also help to positively impact other MDGs by bringing an end to forced child marriages and cheap child labor
  • In addition to supporting general education, we should also support vocational training and entrepreneurship education for women, as entrepreneurship remains one of the most important ways out from poverty.
  • Returns on investment in women are also greater as  women generate economic value and social growth,
  • Investment in information and communications technology and bridging the digital divide are at the heart of a new and sustainable global society. Information technology is the engine of a new economy; it generates entrepreneurship, includes the possibility of new jobs. If we contribute to the spread of information technology, we also increase the likelihood and extent of access to education.

5) Developing a national plan with an implementation and evaluation component provides accountability

  • Estonia, has a comprehensive Development Plan for Reducing Violence (2010–2014), which lays out concrete activities on how to reduce and prevent violence in its various forms, including domestic violence, violence against minors, trafficking in human beings, and violence against women and children

6) Human rights-based accountability principles and approaches should be used in achieving the MDGs by 2015 and beyond

  • Taking a human rights approach to achieve the MDG goals allows the framing of targets and outcomes in accordance with international laws; it defines obligations by State parties and other stakeholders as legally binding. The norms to measure MDG outcomes for women and girls, in accordance with the CEDAW Convention, go beyond legal equality; they also include equality of access to opportunity and equality of results.
  • Actions to clearly delineate the responsibilities and accountability of various stakeholders especially Member States and all its agencies/machineries, from the national to the community/village levels, non-State actors and the private sector will facilitate the processes of achieving substantive equality between women and men
  • Positive outcomes for women and girls of the MDGs may be assessed on the basis of the progress in female representation in decision making bodies across the different branches of government (i.e. executive, judicial and legal bodies), and from the global, regional, national and down to the village levels

7) We need better data in order to be accountable

  • A serious gap in assessing the MDG results for women and girls is the lack of data on female decision making roles at lower levels of governance and planning. While an increase in number of female national parliamentarians and executive leaders should be pursued beyond MDG 15 it is equally important to monitor the extent of female participation in other areas of decision making to include the judicial and legal branches of government and special courts as well as fact-finding bodies and planning bodies at local levels of governance.

8) Civil Society engagement is necessary for accountability

  • The active participation, over the years, of various international, regional and country-based women’s movements, feminist activists and civil society organizations has helped ensure the commitment of State parties and the private sector to their commitments.
  • This practice should be sustained and strengthened to include CSOs engaged in work around emerging gender issues.

9) The input of grassroots, indigenous, minority and other marginalized communities is imperative in the design of future goals and in the evaluation of achievements

  • The MDGs have been accused of being developed in a closed, nontransparent manner and being a donor-led agenda with little attention to local context, participation and the views of those that they seek to benefit. The MDGs did not address crucial women’s issues
  • An inter-generational approach, integral to the BPfA, has been absent in the development and implementation of the MDGs.- its been 20 years since Beijing
  • Despite the current participatory nature of the consultations on the post 2015 development agenda at the national, regional and global level, there is always a danger that the discussions over the post 2015 framework will remain in the high-level political spaces. No effort should be spared in bringing the voices of the marginalized to these policy spaces
  • Framework which speaks on issues of poverty and sustainable development must be informed by those who experience them on a daily basis. Social justice and ending poverty has at its heart the understanding that people are the primary actors in their own survival and development


10) Accountability becomes a process that manages power imbalances.

  • The key challenge is to create the right power balance between rights- holders and duty-bearers
  • For an equilibrium on the power balance, every plan needs to have participation by the rights-holders, transparency, complaint and response mechanisms and review and evaluation


Submitted by

Geeta Desai

Advocacy Convener, WG-USA

GWI Membership Committee